The partial government shutdown has glided into its third week with no end in sight. If the government is not reopened before March, millions of Americans who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — the nation’s food stamp program — could have their assistance disrupted. The funding provided for SNAP and other programs through February is only a temporary fix.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees SNAP at the federal level, is one of the agencies unfunded during the partial government shutdown. Although SNAP is automatically renewed, it has not been allocated funding from Congress beyond January. Congress has appropriated $3 billion in emergency funds for SNAP distribution, but that would not have covered all of February’s obligations.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that SNAP would be funded through February, thanks to the funding bill that expired on Dec. 22, which included a provision allowing federal agencies to make obligated payments to support certain programs for 30 days after its expiration date.
In September 2018, the last month for which data is available, $4.7 billion in SNAP benefits were disbursed throughout every state. If the shutdown continues through March, there will be no remaining funding for SNAP, endangering food security for millions of Americans.